Posted in Poetry

Checking for Pulse

 

At times like these it all feels so little
Light a candle. Hold a vigil
The voice of truth is freedom
And a riot is the language of the unheard
I’m protecting you from what I could be
When I offer up my words
I will not dam up this river of turmoil
I will not hold back a reservoir of pain
But I will dig a ditch of irrigation
In desperation, and search of a fertile plain
In hopes the dry desert that is your heart
Knows somewhere how it suffers from lack of rain
I am through with building bridges
You burn down despite your place
I was standing beneath it looking up
And you had no nose on your face
My heart, it’s in its rightful place
And the water is at my sleeve
I’ll invite you to the life raft you forced me in
And I don’t give two fucks what you believe
“The river is only 6,000 years old”
And you’re not persecuting my people
You’re only doing what your told
I suggest you revisit your Basic Instructions
Before Leaving Earth
You’ll find love and hate are as intertwined
As conjoined twins at birth
Faith in search of gold
It’s time to brake out the frankincense and myrrh
49 of God’s children died for your sins
When hatred is the pot you stir
Cling to your cross and blame it on the crescent moon
Different words to the same song
When you’re humming the same damn tune
You sing a dirge over the living
You pronounce us dead in our sins
But all the flies at the wake
Are burrowing their larva in your skin
Lazarus come forth! And change your every definition
Of love, of marriage, of who can be god’s children
I don’t know about resurrection
But I still believe in redemption
No exemption, no exclusionary clause
It’s not too late for you to join liberation’s cause
Let the gay pride parade light your way
Let a bisexual be your eyes
Let a drag queen remove your gauze
You can light a candle. And she can sing at your vigil
At times like these it seems like so little
But it’s not everyday the dead in Christ arise
To live in love, in love, in love
Three times for the father, son and holy dove
Whatever spirit drives justice roll on like a river
If god is anything, she’s nothing if not a giver
Let it rise from below let it rain down from above
Until no dam is high enough,
Until there is a literal flood
Until two of every kind on this sinking ark
Can find sanction for their love

Posted in Poetry

Straining Towards Compassion

We don’t choose who we love
Most of us don’t even choose what we believe
It still usually ends where it begins
And the masses are easily deceived

Me, I try to love you all
But I wear my heart where my tattoos should be
Taught to ink the flesh is sin
And I still feel guilty for these three rings

When you try to stand tall
They say nothing is what you should be
Just put that fake smile on your face
And learn to live by these three things

Faith
Hope
Love

Harnessed, hallowed out, weaponized
And then held against your head
Just learn to say “I forgive you”
When 9 loved ones turn up dead

North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee
There is blood on the church floor
The south is burning again
Just like it was in 1964

But if you’re paying attention,
You know it never really stopped

And 2015 was to be the summer of LGBT love
And rings and proposals do proceed
But celebrations are muffled
As shots ring out at San Fran Pride
And there’s been beat downs of our trans sisters
In Seattle streets

I think we need Harvey Milk and Rosa Parks
we need Malcolm X and Dr. King
Right now we need Bayard Rustin
to help us connect the dots between their dreams

Full participation of gay and women’s liberation
In the movement, that’s what Huey Newton said
But it’s been 45 years and you know the lyrics
Two shots in the dark and now Huey’s dead

Can we ever go anywhere with each other
These animals that we call mankind
When these fat cats like Trump or Hillary
Creep across broken hearts like landmines?

Sometimes I can’t stand mine
I want to say if you want it you can have it
But I know my capacity for empathy lies within
So i won’t let anybody grab it

I still believe that we can fly
If we would only open up our eyes to see
But our feet stay planted on the concrete
That paves the way to shattered dreams

I said…
We don’t choose who we love
Most of us don’t even choose what we believe
But what I believe keeps changing
As I keep straining
Towards compassion
I’ll do that ’til I bow out  and take my leave

*This poem was inspired undoubtedly by a plethora of recent events that I had been trying to put words to for some days. Then last night I read these words from a speech given by Black Panther co-founded Huey P. Newton in 1970 and this poem was the result.

Posted in Poetry

Heroes

 

It was on the first grade playground
And we’d play Justice League
At first I think it was this intense intrigue
I was drawn to her intelligence
And her ability to get the truth
Give me a magic lasso
And let Superman keep his booth
But that’s when I found out
That I did not have super friends
And there were some gender norms
That even a 7 year old could not bend
See, even when you play pretend
Little boys must be super-men
But Sarah and Katie could play
Green Lantern and Aquaman
A certain level of tom-boy
Was accepted for an aqua span
Fluid…
That is a period acceptable for each Sarah or Katie
Until that first period when she’s expected
To just wake up a lady
If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is
A life of static expectation
Or overnight metamorphosis
And then I had mine.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I still wish I had Wonder Woman’s invisible plane
I’d jet back to that playground
And I’d retrace every ounce of pain
I’d tell that little boy who dressed up like a big girl
“It’s all going to be okay”
I’d tell him not to give any impetus away
To what others say
Not to carry the hurt on his back
From the repeated refrains of faggot
Still I’m glad it happened
Because I stand here today as an advocate
But who am i kidding?
Advocates persuade on behalf of “others”
I am that other that scares your pastor your, priest, your father
And, Rest In Peace, my own mother
It took a lifetime to discover
Me…
Straighten up my fucked up self-conceptual
I’m not straight, or gay, or trans
I guess, I’m just your average bisexual

So I traded in my childhood heroine
For Scarface and Ice Cube
At first it was just macho posturing
Another white boy with an attitude
Coming straight out the double-wide
No one knew what was buried under there
Bumping Ice Cube’s “Predator” in my mamma’s ride
And smoking Newports in the summer air
Pimp that station wagon like a Mercedes
Compensation baby
Antiheroes… maybe?
But what started out as teenage rebellion
Saved me a thousand times from going crazy
‘Cause my home was not happy
Like the Keatons, the Huxtables, or the Braidys
Hip hop saved my life literally not hyperbolically
So shout out to Lupe, Nas, and Shady
Pac and B.I.G. r.i.p.
NYC to CPT
KRS to K.Dot
Now i must proceed carefully
‘Cause I know I am just a Cream-Bob white boy from Michigan
But I did watch LA burn down
Through the eyes of O’Shea
Predator turned out not to be A Good Day
I learned about Rodney King, Dr. King,
The riots, white privilege and Malcolm
I fell asleep every night for a year
Listening to that album
And seldom would a day go by
That Geto Boys were not in my tape deck
Scarface put me up me on crooked officers
And brothers & sisters 6 feet deep
Beneath urban train wreck
These MC’s were for me teachers…
Heroes
They saved me from church & family’s xenophobia
But still they filled my young undiscerning head
With sexism and internalized homophobia

So I’m back on that playground of life
I’m trying to forge my own justice league
Some say gangster rap ain’t done shit for that
But i can’t forget what it’s done for me
I’m not kidding when I say
I sit beneath the lilac tree in the cool breeze
While Ice Cube spit hot ash
And that’s why I sought a seminary degree
Because despite a thousand sermons
He was the very first person
I heard preach about Justice
But sorry cube we’re not there yet
‘Cause this world is still full of bigotry
And in truth some of your songs
Were full of misogyny and hostility
Till this day, stealing our sisters’ dignity
And I think we need a new liturgy
Because the ancient calligraphy
Too often co-signs hatred
With the name of some divinity
I’ve ripped my broken heart free
From religion and tradition’s ugly sutures
I stand here today well aware of my past
Present in my present
But my eye is on the future
Because I have a 5 year old son
And a daughter in the first grade
And I want them to be free
To be who they want to be
When they go outside to play
But more importantly
I want for them a world where they can love
And be loved in return
A man or woman god and neighbor
But without that old fear of being burned
For eternity
So I fervently
Strive to be the Hero I am in their eyes
Because fatherhood came with great power
And responsibility
But no cape and no disguise
I’m just…
Their Hero